Tag Archives: memory

Being Driven Crackers

24 Oct

Wow… Little man is driving me crackers. This evening his done nothing but talk about wrestling to the point I’m almost smacking my own head against the wall!

His overly obsessed now, I truly never thought anything could come as close as his transport obsession! Obviously I was wrong.

The worst part is how his interest in wrestling is keeping him awake at night again. His back using the melatonin but as usual its not providing much relief. Worse still school inform me that his acting very out of character. It’s been reported that his been saying pretty bizarre stuff like “He would be more popular if he went to prison” this was said as he was asked why he was misbehaving… Another one of his answers was “He gets more respect and makes more friends this way!”

School enquired if it was his medication that could be causing such behaviours… I didn’t think so, but now I’m sat writing this I’ve come to realise that he does actually have more unsettled school days following a night on melatonin.

Anyhow… Back to the obsession that is wresting.

Recently little man discovered a competition on the Internet that is centred around his interest in wrestling. The good think is that the competition doesn’t only relate to his interest but also in that of literacy… Something he is actually reluctant to engage in.

In order to win his dream prize of meeting his favourite wrestler and watching a live show, he will need to complete a number of literacy and wrestling related tasks.This is great as it will encourage him to do literacy but he refuses to let me share it with his teacher. Yet, his literally talked about this competition non stop and has been demanding that we get started right away.

Last night I was in bed sleeping when I was suddenly rudely awaken at the crazy hour of 3.55 am by the little man. His reason for this was to ask me a question, one that apparently couldn’t wait until a sensible hour! The question was “Mum, How many people do you think will enter the competition and how much percentage does this give me off winning?” I swear if looks could kill… I was livid, not that the little man could tell because he just keep asking… On and on and on…

Its not only the competition that’s kind of grating within my slowing brain, its also the non stop noise that comes with having a wrestling mad 12 year old son. Sometimes I could swear we’re experiencing an earthquake (regardless of the fact we live in the UK). The banging and crashing about is just unbearable. I find myself screaming at the top of my lungs for him to cut it out but 99.9% of the time he cannot hear me above his own noise pollution.

I have heard the same tune, the same cheers, and the same sodding intro that all accompany his favourite wrestler into the ring a million times. If its not blasting through the TV speakers its being played full whack on youtube and if its none of the above you can bet your life on it that his mimicking every word therefore commentating the whole intro from memory.

I can look little man dead in the eye and tell him “Sorry son but I couldn’t give a monkeys backside about whatever his name is” yet he will take no notice, continue feeding me with not so fascinating facts on his favourite wrestler! I try to show an interest, I really do but actually it scares me to try as once I’ve started I’m quickly wishing I hadn’t as hours later I’m still trying to break free.

I dunno… Maybe as he ages these obsessional interests will be more self controlled. I hate the thought of him being a young man who totally dominates an entire conversation based around his own interests. Its just not healthy… He could lose out on friendships and relationships.

Nonetheless, with his great ability to learn combined with his social skills training provided by school, I’m hopeful that all will come good in the end.

Check out Little Mans wrestler inspired face paint…

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When Special Interest become obsessive in children with Aspergers Syndrome

28 Feb

Special interests are great but sometimes pose a problem!

Its fantastic when your child diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome has a special interest, one he/she can focus positive attention, gain enjoyment from and importantly, learn from. 

Little man, has always had a special interest in transport and although this often skips between trains, buses and the London underground, it always remains within this area. 

Little man also enjoys Lego since discovering how much fun it can be, this has become an additional interest of his. Though it should be noted that he does incorporate his special interest of the above, within his Lego play. He spends lots of time creating new models of transport, whether it’s a bus or a train, he could be there for hours. 

This however isn’t a problem, though his special interest in transport did reach the point of extremely excessive a year or so ago when he was back in mainstream school.

 I found Little man was constantly mimicking the transport announcements that he had studied and memorised to a perfection! He was also intensely interested in the mechanisms of transport, especially that of the bus doors. He would use his hands to act out the opening and closing motion and spent hours beeping, so much so that I could hear it in my sleep! No matter where we were, if little man saw sliding windows or doors, he would head straight for them, sliding them open and closed as to recreate the same motion of the doors on the bus. I remember visiting his doctor at CAMHS for an emergency appointment which had been organised because of the trouble he was having in school, his low self-esteem, the anger it was creating, along with a whole host of other issues which resulted from such difficulties. He spent the whole appointment sliding the windows of her office open, before bashing them back together in a loud distracting manner. His doctor could hear the beeping sounds he was making as-well as the monotone voice he put on as he mimicked the announcements normally heard when on a bus! Right there and then she drew the conclusion that his special interest had become somewhat extreme, and if such behaviour was getting in the way of life, it was time to limit it. 

This may seem, to some, an extreme thing to do! Why stop him from doing something that clearly makes him happy (after all, he was having the most horrid time in school). The thing with Aspergers Syndrome and special interest, is that these interest can actually restrict interest and focus in all other areas in life. Basically, his interest in transport had reached a point where he could no longer focus his attention on anything else! It was clear to see that this had become much worse since things had could hugely down hill at school, that lead his doctor to believe that as-well as engaging in his obsessions because he enjoyed them, he had also started using them as a coping mechanism. Not only this, we also established that the opening and closing of doors and windows, or just the hand mimicking actions he was displaying literally all of the time was also providing him with some degree of sensory stimulation, he was sensory seeking! 

 I found that during the course of that year, we spent more time riding on buses than I likely had in my 20 odd years off living! To some degree this had its  advantages, not only did the bus drivers know us by name, often allowing us to indulge his love for free (I’m guessing they guessed this activity was costing me a small fortune, plus it wasn’t hard to work out, that Little man, wasn’t your “Typical child”) but I also found this to be a good reward system, no good behaviour, no riding the buses! Of course when this happened, a meltdown on a huge scale would follow,and although I admittedly caved on a few occasions, I largely remained consistent, which is obviously that best way to be

 Little man did some amazing talented things during the course of that year, he could basically tell you where any bus was heading in London, doing so with such acuity. Although he had always been pretty good at this, it was now on a whole new level! My son was able to tell us what bus was destining for where, despite never having been on some of these bus before!

 It was incredibly hard to take the doctor’s advice and over time, limit the time he spent on this interest. This itself took strength a whole bucket load of the stuff. I used to find him wandering around the house at 4 am beeping away, worse he would be unravelling the toilet tissue around the house as to create a route for his imaginary buses to follow. I could lead him back to bed, but I couldn’t always keep him there, I couldn’t switch his mind off his interest, he’ll just lay there in the dead of night, recalling hundreds of buses and destinations from memory.

 It was only after he started his new special school for children with autism and aspergers and his discovery of the Lego brick, that I finally saw a dramatic decrease in these behaviours! OK, despite Melatonin of a night, his still up till the early hours, and of course he still beeps and has a run through of bus numbers, but it’s nowhere near on the same level it once was.

 The Lego gave him a distraction and another form of sensory play, while his growing confidence in himself as a result of his new-found happiness at school, are the reasons behind this reduction. 

 Little man’s interest in transport will likely always be his special interest, and probably that bit more obsessive than most people’s interest. However, now it is manageable and I couldn’t be happier with this!

  I even got asked by the bus driver last week, if all was OK because he hadn’t seen us for a while… Result! 

 

10 positives to parenting a child with Aspergers Syndrome

5 Jan

Having posted a post full of doom and gloom a few days back (Questioning your coping mechanisms) I wanted to post something a tad more upbeat and cheery today.

So… with this in mine, I have created a list of the top ten best things that come with parenting a child with Aspergers Syndrome. Yes, its full of them quirky little traits I love and the reasons while I just couldn’t live without them.

(1) HONESTY: Now don’t believe everything you read, a child with Aspergers can tell the odd porky pie, why? Because they are intelligent and learn how to do such a thing! However, 99% of the time you will find that your child, friend or family relative on the autism spectrum is indeed extremely honest! Little man speaks his mind and although this may have gotton him into the odd spot of bother (example… telling the head teacher at his old school that his breath smelt similar to that of a dog) it’s also a credit to him. When little man tells you something that sounds like it is the stuff of make believe, you’ll likely be surprised to find that… yes it’s actually true!

(2) SPECIAL INTEREST: When your child has a diagnosis such as Aspergers, you’ll find that

Wikipedia: Image of London Bus Child Ticket

Image via Wikipedia

with that title comes that of the ‘Special interest’ and if like little man, that special interest happens to be London Transport… you’ll never miss a train or a bus again!

(3) EYE FOR A BARGIN: When out food shopping with the Little man, there is a high prospect that the breakout of a meltdown may occur (what with the crowds and the tendency to become over stimulated). I try my best to keep the Little man calm and focused by getting him to help me with the shopping list! Here’s the great thing… I never end up out of pocket due to purchasing offers that secretly are not really offers at all! Little man has the tendency to act like a human calculator. I remember going to buy a bottle of coke that had so much free and at what I considered to be a good price! That was in-till my Little Man informed me that actually by buying the two smaller bottles I’d end up with more litres for less money… Clever lad!

(4) RULE BOUND: When Little man recently took a trip with a friend to the little row of shops around the corner from our house he went knowing the golden rule, “Cross at the traffic lights and only at the traffic lights!” When his friend tried to persuade him to cross the main road without the safety of the lights, little man refused and came back home! That’s my boy!

English: A Led Traffic lights

Image via Wikipedia

(5) YOUNG & BUSINESS MINDED: Many children at eleven are not sat for hours, days, weeks or years even, planing their business empire! Well, Little man is… ambition: To be the next Richard Branson (not a bad ambition for an 11-year-old kid, is it)? My little man already has a name for his brand and plans how he will take the world by force on a daily basis… Watch this space!

Image representing Richard Branson as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

(6) TAKES A SHINE TO YOUR VAX: No… Not Fax, though I’m sure if I had one he would love it! I mean, ‘VAX’ a brand of vacuum cleaner. Oh… Yes, I can just see all them parents of children on the autism spectrum nodding their heads at speed because yes, the child with Aspergers Syndrome does have a tendency to like household gadgets or items considered odd by peers of the same age! Why is this a good thing? Well, what other 11-year-old do you know who offers to hover the living room and stairs for you on a daily basis? What a great job he makes of it too!

(7) HAVING A LAY IN: OK, OK my son isn’t the best at going to bed and falling a sleep of a night, he often struggles till 3am or later even with the use of Melatonin (natural sleeping medication) however when his head hits the pillow he refuses to move it and after a late one making sure he gets of to sleep, I deserve a lay-in! (NOT GREAT ON SCHOOL DAY, JUST WEEKENDS)!

(8) PERFECTIONIST: Not always a good thing, especially when it means they refuse to do school work as they feel they just can’t do a good job of the task at hand so outrightly refuse to try at all. Nonetheless when the child is passionate about something, they do a mighty good job of it, making the parent a very proud one (I have some amazing pictures of little man’s LEGO creations).

(9) MANNERS: Little man has huge problems with his use of swearing and at times I’m dead embarrassed when out and about a meltdown breaks out which often starts with some really offensive obscenities. Yet, when the Little man is polite and his engaged in a conversation of interest or sat talking to the elderly lady on the bus, his manners are outstanding and many comment how proud I must be 🙂 Put it this way… My son has never got of a bus without thanking the driver, always holds doors open for little old ladies and once offered FOR ME to carry someone’s shopping to their car at Tesco!

(10) AMAZING MEMORY: Little man may not have the best short-term memory especially when asking him to fetch his dirty washing or find his shoes, but when something interests him he gathers the facts surrounding the topic and stores them away safely. It is truly amazing that Little man can tell you where almost every bus in London is destining for just by giving him its number!

A fMRI scan showing regions of activation in o...

Image via Wikipedia

Fun with Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom

22 Nov

Another one for the Christmas List, We are really not far from the big “C” there is truly no getting away from it!

This time I’m sharing mine and the helpers views on the Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom Lotto Game.

Oh yes, Like many other Pre-schoolers across the land, my Little Harley who is 2 next month is a “Massive” Ben and Holly fan, he loves it!

The other two? well… not really, at almost 9 Alice-Sara loves her Monsters high, Barbie and everything else girlie and the Little man spends his days investigating new Bus routes, building with Lego and discovering his other interests, however since doing the Little helpers both are more inclined to join me and the youngest member of the family in playing a game or two.

So, that’s what we did when we received the Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom Lotto game by Entertainment one ! The game is recommended for children aged 3+ Harley at almost two is a tad young, however as my partner in crime and with lots of prompts he was able to really get involved and had loads of fun doing so. The way I see it is, his engaging learning and taking it in bit by bit, he will get many years to play this on a more independent level.

Product Description

A fun Lotto memory game featuring Ben and Holly plus other favourite characters from the TV show. Holly has mixed up all the things in the little kingdom whilst practising her magic spells. Can you help her put them all back where they belong?

Our thoughts

The concept of the game is rather simple, yet extremely fun for the little ones. It’s a great way to help aid the development of your child’s memory skills as-well as that of their concentration and thinking style.

Memory games are also really great for children with autism or those with additional needs as I’ve demonstrated in past post when reviewing a range of games with Little man.

This isn’t your typical memory game! Basically each player selects a card and looks to see if it features any of the featured images on their lotto card, whoever fills their six game slots on their lotto card first is the winner.

Harley would select the card and pass it to me. If we had the featured item I would cheer and clap, this got him very excited causing him to cheer even when our opponents found one of their cards, bless him, he’ll soon get out of that, I’m sure 🙂

The older two found it quite easy but really enjoyable especially my eldest with Aspergers. His been found head first in the toy box digging out the game a number of times! I even discovered him playing it alone last week, um… not to sure how that worked but I left him happily to it!

Have to give this one a five star*****

If not for the fantastic valule for money but the endless family fun it’s provided!

Would make an excellent gift for any little Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom fan

Plus it’s a Great addition to the toy box

Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom Lotto Game is aimed at Children 3 years plus, it’s for 2-4 players and is priced at an amazing £7.99 RRP (in my opinion a little price for a great game) It’s very well made and if looked after will last for many games over many years.

Fancy a game of Lotto? Ben and Holly’s Little kingdom Game is available form all good retailers so… make sure you get yours this Christmas.

I’ve uncovered it for you at Debenhams in the Sale for the awesome price of £5.60

PLUS THEY HAVE FREE P&P FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY!

It’s too much of a deal to ignore isn’t it? Click HERE for the Debenhams website to get yours.

Ben and Holly fans can now head over to the official Facebook page, why not check it out by clicking HERE

Thanks to Entertainment one for sending me a copy of the game for the purpose of this review.

The John Crane Memory Game, So Much More Than Just A Toy

3 Nov

If you read yesterdays post you will know that Paul, daddy of two girls and owner of “When I was a kid”  & ‘John Crane ltd’ are on a mission to uncover which of their toys are the most beneficial to a child, especially those on the autism spectrum or those with special needs. 

The idea is to make sure the toys are the best they can be and in a way that’s beneficial to all children, not just your “typical child” but also those who have developmental delays within a spectrum of areas, difficulties with sensory processing, occupational health, communication, etc.

I also wrote how I was sent a large catalogue displaying the current John Crane ltd toy range, which was just huge, yet extremely pleasurable to look through. There were some great toys, making it quite difficult to select just six off the them to which I would provide some feed back on. Well, as you may have guessed already, they liked what I had to say and that’s why today I’m going to share some of that feed back I gave on one of their products with you guys. 

  My first selection was ‘Memory’ part of the John Crane ltd GoGo range

 Below is the product description from the online toy shop ‘When I was a kid’

 Who didn’t love “Picking Pairs” as a child? I know I did, my dad and I would play for hours with a pack of cards – all 52 of them laid out on the floor. Heaven knows how we memorised them and picked the pairs!


One of our suppliers, John Crane toys has seen the fun of this traditional game and also the educational benefits too and come up with an up to date and colourful wooden version – called The Memory Game!

Little green and orange ‘mushroom’ shaped pieces fit into the tray and are easily lifted by little fingers whilst a number of cards fit below – offering loads of memory challenges on differing themes – such as insects, transport, food etc…

Memory games help with all sorts of skills in younger children, even early reading skills are enhanced!

 First Impressions 

I was instantly drawn to this impressive well made wooden game as soon as I saw it in the catalogue. I love educational toys especially those that benefit all children, while providing them with a fun activity in the process. 

As mentioned above, Memory is a game that has been played for many years and is normally done so with a few decks of playing cards. 

Well, this has the exact same concept as a game of pairs but instead its been transformed into a beautiful wooden game with insert-able brightly coloured cards that have images on either side providing lots of visual stimulation. Each card has a theme there’s animals, fruits, clothing, transport and more. 

The wooden board has two slots, one where cards are stored and the other for when in playing mode (where you slot your desired card) The pictures are then hidden with the help of the wooden lids.

 Playing time per game

Playing time per game, depends on your child and the amount of players (I would recommend no more than two or your game may be over to quickly). 

If your used to the rule, “For every pair you find, you get another turn” I would recommend you don’t use this mode of play! Remember, playing with a deck of cards results in a larger number of pairs needing to be found, which is why “When I was a kid” have introduced the toy in its toddler section. 

 Why I chose this game as one of my autism friendly six! 

 Many Children with autism or aspergers syndrome have exceptional long-term memory, especially when it comes to the child’s particular “Special interest” which is often true for the child with Aspergers. This could be anything from names, dates, specific periods of time, facts about space, or like little man, “Bus numbers and destinations”  However working memory (which is more commonly known as our short-term memory) can often be a weakness, which is why many children on the autism spectrum struggle to follow simple sets of instructions, especially if it involves doing things in sequence. Yes, its easy to become annoyed with a child when they seem to lack the basic skills required to follow basic sets of instructions, more so if the child is yet to gain a diagnosis. For me, it was the difficulty I had when trying to understand why my child was able to remember vast amounts of information that related to, “Buses” but couldn’t carry out the smallest of tasks, like sending him to brush his teeth or put on his shoes, having only just reached the top of the stairs he would have forgotten what it was he was meant to be doing?

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What is Working memory?

Working memory is a process that most of us engage in without even releasing it. An example would be your boss giving you a set of instructions on a project that needed completing. We listen, process and store the information we’ve been given! We may jot down notes later but still need to recall the information in our heads and do so in the appropriate order.

If you’re a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, there is a pretty good chance that your child’s teacher has reported that your child has poor attention or refuses to listen to any instructions being given. This is an all too common assumption, when in actually fact the child is listening extremely hard but the amount of information being given in such a short time frame leads to the child’s confusion, they become muddled within their own heads simply because they didn’t have time to process the information. 

The above can then lead to a host of other difficulties for the child, like challenging behaviour and low self-esteem. The child could even be branded as naughty, another all to common scenario. 

It’s for reasons like those above, that children with autism work well with visuals. Its well documented how children on the autism spectrum are better at carrying out day-to-day task with the help of visual prompts. Maybe… think about it as a set of instructions you follow when putting  together a flat pack! This is how the child uses visuals. 

The John Crane ‘Memory’ game is the perfect tool to aid this area of weakness. Children with autism will have great fun memorising where each picture is on the board, they will learn the skills of patience and turn taking as well as the concept of competition, all while improving they’re working memory. 

Little man loves this game, but has now studied all the cards over a few weeks and now beats me far to easy (see this is where his talents come into play as once he wants to store information over a longer period of time he will set about doing it and does so very well) what’s great though, he still wants to play everyday. At 11 years old his working memory is still poor but improving all the time. Speech and language therapy as well as certain games we play and task I engage him in, such as asking him to remember things on a shopping list, are just a number of things I believe has brought about these improvements.

As much as Little loves this game, I would recommend to the younger child with and without autism, maybe a larger board with more pairs to match would be better suited to the older child.

  Recommendations

Personally I’d recommend  Memory for children between the ages of 2-7 (note the recommend age is 36 months) However I would also recommend this to a child that bit older, who is seen to have greater developmental delays whether this is a child with autism or another form of disability

 Parental perspective, given by a mother of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome 

 This is both a toy and a great resource for a child with special needs. It would be a great if ‘John Crane’ were to bring out additional packs of cards. These could then be sold in addition to the game, meaning parents could buy additional packs of cards as and when they like. This would therefore provide the child with more off a challenge, and they would never become bored, while also giving them that aspect of forming a collection (which they love to do). 

I consider ‘Memory’ to be a valuable resource & toy that could be used in the home, at school or nursery, even during a speech and language session! 

 Overall Quality  

 As always, ‘John Crane ltd’ have brought us a beautifully crafted wooden toy that is hand finished to perfection. This is a toy that I’m sure Paul is pleased to have featured on his site. 

Memory is likely to withstand the test of time and could be passed down generations with a little love and care. 

 Where to buy

 So, there you have it! A perfect toy for a child with or without autism, that displays a friendly price tag of a reasonable £32.99

 Whether it’s your child’s working memory you seek to improve, or just the chance to have fun playing with a fun but educational toy, then I can’t see where you could go wrong when buying Memory!  

 Visit, ‘When I was a kid’ the online friendly independent toy shop, who provide its customers with fantastic customer service and an excellent delivery service (get it the next working day or within 2 working days via the fast track service) 

Just click HERE to get yours

Why not like ‘When I was a kid’ on facebook or check out the ‘John Crane’ blog    

 

Cost-free effective ways to help your child on the spectrum

29 Jul

There are so many parents with children on the spectrum that spend thousands of pounds on the new latest therapy said to improve a child’s communication difficulties or their sensory processing needs. Not everyone has the funds for this or any other therapy besides, whether that be speech and language (SALT) or occupational therapy (OT)

So, here are some tips of things you can try that are cost-free and effective. Yet you should note that, 1) Here, you wont find any freebies,  just my little old  tips. 2) I’m not sharing a cure (there isn’t one)!  3) Nothing is a quick fix and finally… 4) Everybody is different, the difficulties mentioned in this post may or may not even affect your child like it does mine. Remember, somethings work better for some then they do for others. 

 Note: You may want to discuss some of the methods below with your child’s doctor to ensure their suitability.   

Roll play to enhance imagination and improve social skills: Play games that require imagination. Shops, is the type of game children love to play and my daughter has shown her brother how to play shops in a non repetitive way. (well, his getting there)! Little man has the mathematical brain so he does all the pricing up and change giving etc…This also teaches important ‘Life skills’ essential to children with social skills problems and difficulty with social interaction. There are other games you can play, like,  Schools or emergency services. Little man always pretends to drive a bus through the game is often repetitive it has still required a certain amount on imagination, which is what we are trying to achieve.    

Body brushing for tactile sensitivity: Body brushing helps children on the spectrum who are sensitive to certain forms of tactile stimulation that can come from a range of different textures. Little man is tactile defensive and has issues when wearing certain items of clothing due to the materials they have been made with. Body brushing is a technique that would normally be carried out by an OT and Little man currently has it  done during his OT sessions at school. However this can be done in the home in addition to an OT programme. (You may wish to get your OTs advice first.) If you’re not in a position to get your child on an OT programme due to funding or because of an inadequate statement of special educational needs, (SEN) but you are fully aware that your child’s over sensitivity to touch, this is something you could do at home on a regular basis. We just lightly brush Little mans arms and legs with different objects of different textures that each give off a different sensation. Good items to try are, body brushes, used for showering and different types of sponges. Body brushing a few times a week for ten minutes a time could make a huge difference to how you child copes and responds when dealing with different tactile experiences.

The guessing game: Another way of helping a child who has tactile sensitivity is again though play! Placing a range of different objects into a large paper bag and getting your children to place their hand in the bag and without looking ravage around and fill for an object. Before pulling the selected object out of the bag, ask your child to describe what it is they can fill out loud so you can hear, e.g… it’s smooth, quite big, round etc…,  etc…. Then continue on by asking your child to guess what it is that they think it is that they are holding. This again gets your child used to different textures while helping them think outside the box. 

Special interest: Encourage your child’s, “Special interest” embrace and celebrate their interest no matter how unusual or strange they may seem. Most people on the spectrum have interest that are somewhat,”Obsessive and a little over powering! If it really is becoming too much and completely dominating their time to the point it affects sleep, school or any other important events then try to limit the time spent on the activity, coming to a compromise! For example, “You can play buses or memorise bus destinations for half hour, then we will bake cakes!” The secret here is to make sure the compromise involves something else they enjoy (Even though it isn’t going to be something as important as that of the, “Special interest” it can still be extremely effective, so…  It’s Worth a try at least! )

Praise: Use lots of praise, if anything, “Over Prise” Catch them doing something good and praise them for it! If your child closes a door as opposed to slamming it as he normally would, praise him at that exact moment, not later but straight away! Trust me it helps!

Social stories: Write social stories to prepare your child for the unexpected or  just  those situations/events that worry them. There are plenty of free resources on the web and there are sites tailored to help you create your own social stories. Taking pictures is always an idea. If writing a social story about visiting the dentist for instance, you can take pictures of the dentist room and even the dentist if he agree. Use them in your social story, helping your child to familiarise themselves with the surroundings in-which you wish them to visit. 

Visual aids: Use visual aids to help your child follow a routine, whether that routine is for the whole day or just part of it! (Bed or bath time.) It can be expensive to purchase  pre-made visual aids so why not make these yourself? Again there are sites that are designed for this, ones that provide free images that are designed for this very purpose. You can also look for your own images by googling, “Free Clipart” be sure to check the terms of download and do not use any images protected by copyright laws. If you are a creative person you could draw your own symbols (this doesn’t have to be anything complicated, draw a bed for bedtime etc…. put the word, “bedtime under the image and cut out in the shape of a square) As with the social stories, you can always take your own photographs, e.g, a TV for telly time, their bed for bedtime the bath for bath time. We didn’t use real life images but a mix of downloaded, printed images and symbols that I drew and photocopied as spares. We used visuals to help maintain a bathroom and bedtime routine! After a while we changed from pictures to words and this works just as well.  

Energy burning exercising for your child: Bouncing, “Yes” Bouncing! Its great fun and takes a lot out of a child. If you have a garden that happens to have a trampoline, then of course this is perfect. I like to get little man jumping on our trampoline, sadly as the novelty wears off over time, he is less keen as he once was! Yet it’s not all about trampolines but about burning your child’s access energy so they are more restful at the times you want them to be, like, “Bed Time” I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a trampoline (that cost money and this post “Isn’t” about money, it’s about doing things to help your child that don’t cost a penny)! With that in mind, why not let your child run out their energy at the local park; go on a bike ride together; if your child does enjoy sport, (some kids on the spectrum do) then play a bit of your chosen sport after dinner. These activities can give the same effects as jumping on the trampoline and there all free!

Art for improvement of motor skills: Try to get your child involved in art, whether that be a drawing, painting or a creation of a “Double Decker Bus” (Yes I’m referring to my own child and his special interest. You could actually use your child’s interest to encourage art!) Art helps with a persons fine motor skills and that of hand-eye co-ordination and is great for all child not just the child on the spectrum. 

Memory games: Some children on the spectrum have poor short time memory (Like remembering an instruction, but more the order that the instruction should be carried out)! Little man has an amazing memory for remembering bus numbers and their destinations. He also has the ability to remember song lyrics very quickly. When it comes to fetching something, like his shoes or something else I’ve asked him to get for me that’s upstairs, you can bet your life on it that his forgotten by the time his reached the third step. Good memory games include, “Go fish” which is a card game and, “Pairs,” another card game. One of the best games we have played is one where we take it in turns to hide two or three items around the house and garden ( you can build up to more items with practice). Then the other person must find them by way of following instructions and clues. The person who has hidden the objects must remember where they have chosen to hide them while giving out instructions on how to locate them to the other person. This not only helps with memory but social interaction and multi-tasking. When your child is taking the turn of the person looking for the objects, they will improve the skills needed to follow a sequence of instructions. This is a game that helps children of all abilities, develop and improve some of our most needed skills ready for adulthood. 

Tracing: We have a light box that both Little man and his sister use to trace pictures on. Yes, Little man just wants to trace buses, but who cares, like I said before, “Embrace” their interest! To trace a picture does wonders for a child’s fine motor skills and can be done without a light box,  just a few sheets of good tracing paper alone. 

Money box: Help your child get rid  of the unwanted language/behaviour for good! Do this by, deducting pennies from their pocket-money. The trick here is to make your own simple money-box by using a clear container, slitting a hole in the top to drop the pennies into. They are then able to see the pennies mounting and it’s likely to make a bigger impact. If I tell my son his lost a £1 of his pocket-money on Friday, it just doesn’t sink in! Why? Because it’s just words! Like many kids on the spectrum, Little man needs things, (even sanctions) to be visual and this is! This is only our first day trying this out, but I’ve heard it works for some and I’m taking this approach with Little man and his sister as I know it will also have some benefit on her too (I must add she doesn’t swear but lately hasn’t been too worried about giving mum a little attitude)! There is also the option in allowing your child the chance to be rewarded with pennies being redeemed from the box for behaviour that is consistent with your expectations (The trick here is not to make it an easy solution as this may seem like you’re giving in to their demands)! I will report on our process over the coming months.

Sensory seekers: Make your own play dough as many children with autism seem to love this stuff, not only is it fun creating stuff with it but many kids like the texture, the way it feels when playing with it. Note Be careful they don’t eat it, Little man once did! (Though home made dough is non toxic so don’t panic if they do)!

Record and Monitor: Create your own diary as to record the foods your child is eating. Analyse the graph and try to establish if there are any patterns that give clue to any triggers for challenging behaviour, anxiety or sleep difficulties. There are many food ingredients in our everyday diet that can send a child on the spectrum spinning out of control. This form of documenting can be applied in other ways like, the recording and monitoring of meltdowns to establish a trigger(s). Over a period of time this could potentially reduce the number of  blow ups your child engages in!

Adjust your language: Its simple and effective! Avoid the use of ambiguous language! Speak clearly saying exactly what you mean! This avoids misunderstanding. Metaphors are a big No, No in our house, (when they slip out, I pay dearly).

Reward: Positive behaviour should be rewarded continually! This can be given in tokens allowing your child to collect and work towards something special (like a game they have wanted for some time, etc.). This is something we have done with Little man and his new school continue to do this. So far so good! (Just look at last weeks post, A little inspiration’) 

Offer alternatives: If like little man your child has a tendency to use fail language to the point it’s extremely worrying and not to mention embarrassing then try this! We have told Little man to use alternative words like, “Duck Off” or “You Witch” (‘Duck’ in replacement of the “F” word and ‘Witch’ in replacement of the “B” word) Yer, yer, I know it sounds silly! That’s what Little man said! But you see, Little man can be very grown up or very immature, every time he said Duck off, he would burst out laughing making him want to use the Duck word more! We still have a very long road ahead. Swearing has been a massive issue with little man for a long, long time now! 

 Independence: Remember your child will grow to be an adult just like all children do. Allow your child independence as they grow. Small steps that gradually increase to bigger ones, “Yes it’s harder when your child has social communication problems” but that don’t mean to say you should stand over them all of the time! (Of course this statement depends on the degree of autism your child may have.)  

Star struck

31 Jan

Ok… now you guys know I’m a mum that embraces her child’s “special ways” I’m always encouraging him to indulge in his “special interest” eventhough it’s got very over the top lately, I always praise him for his IT skills and his fantastic mental maths and it’s fair to say I’ve been equally accepting of his love of music. Now, don’t get me wrong the little guy has always been a fan of music but lately his been really feeling the music, He quickly programmes his brain to remember lyrics and then sings them aloud till his hearts content.

Now I’m not wringing “Ok maybe just a bit” and I’m only human here right… But last night and today I really wanna run and hide… either that or put my foot through little mans PC.

Here’s the issue! Little man has recently got a taste for the artist Bruno Mars who is currently number one in the UK charts. Now of course this isn’t a problem (well not as such) and it’s great he likes his music so much! However the problem is little man has never done things by half and becoming a Bruno mars fan was no exception. The number one single ‘Grenade’ was a song that I myself kinda liked… Well, that was in till little man totally killed it! I’m not being OTT when I say “His played it to death and I’m close to knocking myself out with some strong sleeping pills, and if that fails a frying pan… so I don’t have to hear it once more”

It’s not just the song I’ve heard playing over & over & over again that’s slowly sending me to the blink of madness, but Little man really sees himself as a talented singer and although I love my son… I do not love his singing! This isn’t the half of it! As well as streaming the video repeatedly on You tube, playing it on his HTC smart phone, creating a ringtone, reseaching the guy on the net and spending far to much time on his fan page… He also feels the need to talk about him to an excessive extent. Even buses and trains have been cut back a little as to allow room for this new idol.

As I write this post I have the song impregnated on the brain. It’s there against my will and will not leave as ordered. Well, this is the result of hearing it till the small hours and almost the whole of today. Any comment I make that even tries to suggest he stops and moves on to something else is reacted to in a less then positive way.

He told me that the main reason he loves this particular song so much was because the Artist (Bruno Mars) refers to a train within the lyrics. With transport being his love and given that it’s incorporated into this song, I don’t really think I stood a chance when pleading for a well needed rest from Bruno Mars!

I’m now hiding away in the sanctuary of my bedroom where I hope to remain undisturbed for the next half hour or so.

So… If your reading this Mr Bruno Mars… Please feel free to contact me so you can engage in the conversation of the art of moderation with my little guy “your truest fan” as you really do have a lot to answer for *giggle* But despite my crazyness it only seems right to thank you for making my little man smile.

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